Classic Author Focus: Dorothy Whipple

As a schoolgirl, Dorothy Stirrup published more than forty stories in the “Children’s Corner” of the Blackburn Weekly Telegraph. Later, she became a successful and popular novelist, short story and children’s book writer, whose work reflected the concerns of her time. Because her novels were almost all set in Nottingham or Blackburn, where she lived all her life, it is theorized that “her provincial status was probably a factor in her quick descent into critical oblivion” (the Orlando project). Although she has had an increase in popularity with recent reprints of her work, she has not been taken up critically. I wanted to write a post about her because she has become one of my favorite classic authors.

Whipple was born into a middle class family in Blackburn. Her father was an architect and land agent. Although she received an education, the schools she attended sound abyssmal. She was bullied and ridiculed by her math teacher for being unable to do sums and was caught cheating in despair of trying to do her math. Later, when she wrote an essay she was proud of, she was accused of plagiarism. Her parents finally entered her into convent schools, where she did better because of her respect for her teachers.

Dorothy Whipple

Whipple was probably romantically involved with her friend George Owen, but he was killed at the beginning of World War I. Later, she married Henry Whipple, 24 years her senior, who she worked for during three years as his secretary. About ten years into her marriage, she began her writing career. She was very popular and well regarded, described by J. B. Priestly as the “Jane Austen of her century.” Two of her novels were made into movies.

Dates: 1893-1966

Most popular works:  They Were Sisters, They Knew Mr. Knight, Someone at a Distance

Other works: The Other Day, an Autobiography; Because of the Lockwoods; Greenbanks; The Priory; The Tale of the Very Little Tortoise; The Smallest Tortoise of All 

13 thoughts on “Classic Author Focus: Dorothy Whipple

    1. My favorite so far is They Were Sisters. Literary Wives is reviewing it the first Monday in February. If you read it, you could join us in the discussion!


  1. This post was supposed to go out last Friday. I had it scheduled and it showed as scheduled, but I haven’t used the scheduler very often and forgot to press the Publish button. Duh!


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